Is Drunk Driving a Misdemeanor or Felony?
In Michigan drunk driving charges for the first and second offense is considered a misdemeanor. On your third drunk driving charge, the door is open for felony penalties.
The first thing to know about Drunk Driving cases is that if you plead guilty to or are convicted of a drunk driving offense, there will be two branches of state government who will administer penalties to you. The first will be a Court and the second will be the Secretary of State.
At court, you should expect that before you are asked to make a plea, guilty or not guilty, you will be required to undergo alcohol detection testing, on a once or twice a day basis. This will last until your case ends in a dismissal, a not guilty verdict or sentencing.
If the alcohol screening test detects that you have been drinking, you can expect additional consequences for bond violations. Bond violations can result in some jail time and/or more extensive testing. These types of bond violations are not really part of your drunk driving con- sequences but penalties imposed for a failure to follow the Court’s bond orders.
When you go to court and are convicted by trial or a plea of guilty, the Court will typically assign you a probation officer. You will be required to undergo some testing and interview with this probation officer. The probation officer will make recommendations to the Court for sentencing. You or your attorney may bring up other things for the Court to consider when it sentences you.
Your Court penalty will always include: fines and costs, probation, participation in alcohol awareness education or treatment program and in some cases, jail time. Jail is much more likely to be the consequence of a second drunk driving related offense than the first offense.
Other factors that will be taken into account are the level of offense. There are drinking offenses that are named: impaired driving, driving under the influence and high alcohol content driving under the influence. The Court considers the level of your offense although it is typically the case that a second offense is generally going to cause you to suffer more consequences than a first time offense
During probation, at least for a time, the court will continue to screen you for alcohol consumption. It is also important to note that in some Courts, at the time of a second offense, you may be offered an intensive probation with a treatment program as a component of the plan, instead of jail time. This is an intense effort on the Court’s part to keep you from driving drunk a third time, when it becomes a felony. However, the probation program is so intense that many choose just to accept the jail time.
Secretary of State
After a plea or conviction, the second governmental agency in Michigan, the Secretary of State, becomes involved. Once your conviction is filed with the State, the Secretary of State will imposed some form of driving restriction on a convicted drunk driver, depending on the level of the offense and whether or not it is a first or second time offense. At minimum, you should expect to have your driving privileges restricted. This will allow driving to and from work, to and from probation appointments and/or doctor’s appointments only.
Often a convicted drunk driver will also have his driving privileges suspended for a period of time, even if it is a first offense. Many of these suspensions and restrictions require a driver’s reinstatement fee to restore your driving privileges that often equal the fines and costs charged by the Court.
Beyond these restrictions, you may be required to file for restoration of your driver’s license and go through an administrative hearing to drive again. None of this is easy. Clearly, the best course of action is to avoid getting behind the wheel after to you drink alcohol. However, many fail to heed this advice.
If you have been caught driving after drinking, call me to help sort through the ins and outs of the legal system and the follow on issues that will come from the Michigan Secretary of State. Call Vincent J Maloney now, for a free 30 minute consultation and get answers to your questions. 231.947.3331